She graduated at the top of her class. She landed at the bottom of KMCP 8's totem pole, a fact underscored by her first assignment (reviewing lip balm), italicized by her airtime (a few seconds squeezed between dolphins and those funny deodorant commercials), and punctuated by her hair. Two minutes before the cameras rolled, someone ripped out her sensible bun and fluffed her hair into a large, bun-crimped cloud. "Buns don't film," she was told when she complained. "They make you look closed off and unapproachable. And men like long hair."
So the next day, she woke half an hour earlier (but who cares about the difference between 4:30 and 4, right?) to comb, blow, and spray her locks into glamorous submission. They sent her outside for a piece on windburn. "You look cute," her cameraman bellowed as her hair blew across her face and stuck to her lipstick.
"You looked adorable, Roxie," her boyfriend told her over dinner.
"I looked ridiculous. I was ridiculous. I want real stories, not this drivel."
He shushed her, coddled her, and played with her ridiculous hair. She stared outside, where a gang-tagged sign caught her eye.
The third day, she handed her editor a ten page memo.
"What's this?" he said, frowning at her.
"I'd like to do a piece on gang warfare in Metro City," she replied. "About how, despite the existence of Metro Man, teenagers and young adults living near Barracks Station are—"
"Not this," he interrupted, tossing the papers on his desk. "This," he spat, tugging on her ponytail. "What are you, fourteen?"
"What am I supposed to do with it?" she snapped. "I can't leave it down if you're going to send me into another tornado!"
"You don't have to worry about tornados, Ritchi. Or gang wars, or drugs, or Metro Man. Think skincare, fashion, and maybe dating tips. Maybe, if you can stop being so damned severe!"
She tried very, very hard not to think about beating his balding head with one of his dusty awards. Her eyes must have given her away, though, because he suddenly moved between her and the shelf of potential murder weapons.
"You're due to film a segment on vintage cocktail dresses in ten minutes. Go fix your attitude, Ritchi."
"Fine." She stalked out of his office as quickly as her stilettos would allow.